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Success stories

Jan - Pembrokeshire Welsh Learner of the Year 2014

Conie Fisher and Jan Halle.At a recent Sadwrn Siarad (Speaking Saturday) held at the Crymych Community Learning Centre, Learning Pembrokeshire student Jan Halle was presented with the Pembrokeshire Welsh Language Learner of the Year Award.

The trophy was presented by West End singer and actress Connie Fisher, herself a Welsh learner from Pembrokeshire. This annual award recognises not only effort and success in learning Welsh but also enthusiasm and perseverance. Congratulations to Jan! 


Sharon Barnikel with her children Ryan, 7, Arran ,4, and Lainey, 10 months.Sharon Barnikel, 33, from Monkton enrolled on Basic Skills classes in Maths and English to "freshen my brain" and has done so well that she won a special award for her reading this year (2008).

The mother-of-three left school at 16 and worked in a variety of retail and office jobs before her first child, now seven, was born.

"I wanted to freshen up," she said. "I wanted to be able to help my children when they came home from school with their homework."

"I really enjoy it. It's time for myself really. I loved maths at school anyway and now I find that I'm reading constantly - before I would hardly pick a book up."

Sharon, whose youngest child is still only 10 months-old, finds the afternoon classes at Monkton School convenient as they fit in with her children's school timetable.

"There's also a crèche, which is a great thing. I wouldn't be able to do without it."

"I'm definitely going to keep going. I'm hoping that when the little one is at full time school I will be able to get these qualifications so that I can get a good job."


Sharon Barnikel with her children Ryan, 7, Arran ,4, and Lainey, 10 months.


WayneWayne Dowzell always had trouble with English and Maths and when his baby daughter came along he decided to do something about it. 

"It makes you look at life differently when you have children.  I found it hard to take that first step", said Wayne, "but once I was in it was fine - everyone was so friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed".

A couple of years ago his tutor introduced him to Quick Reads.

"For the first time I started to enjoy reading.  The first book I read was by Ricki Tomlinson.  I must admit it was the title that attracted me! 

"There are a whole series of books by well know authors and they cover a range of subjects.  They are shorter, well written and the stories are so good that here is an incentive to finish them.  I'm even taking one on holidays with me. 

"My interest in reading and my spelling have improved tremendously.  We have a good selection of the books in class but I have just got an application form to join the library.  The only trouble now is finding enough time to read them all!

"Attending classes to improve my reading, writing and maths has given me more confidence, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs help it can change your life. As a result of my new found confidence I have enrolled on a plumbing course at Pembrokeshire College."


DanielDaniel Bonser was working in Mental Health but felt he would be unable to progress in his career unless he improved his qualifications. He needed GCSE maths but was failing narrowly to get that illusive C grade. 

After talking with Learning Pembrokeshire staff, he decided to follow their advice and try for a City and Guilds qualification (level 2 Adult Numeracy is accepted by colleges as equivalent to a GCSE) and joined a basic skills class at the Tenby Community Learning Centre.

Some of the other people in Daniel's class were also working on their reading and writing, so Daniel decided to join them and try and improve his literacy as well.

"What I enjoyed about the classes", said Daniel, "was the informal atmosphere.  The course materials were put in a way I could understand.  They were related to real life - running a shop or a nursery."

Daniel successfully obtained a level 2 Qualification in both Adult Literacy and Numeracy and, as a result, has begun training, in Bristol, as a dental nurse.

Because of the changes the courses have made to Daniel's life he is keen to share his experience and offer encouragement to others, to take advantages of the opportunities available locally.


RitaSix years ago Rita Trace of Goodwick started computer classes with Learning Pembrokeshire - the adult and community learning arm of Pembrokeshire County Council.

She began by doing the Taste of IT beginner's class, then the New Clait computer course.

She had an old computer at home but wondered if she would cope as she suffers from hearing loss and, at that time, had no hearing aids. She needed to lip read and work on the computer at the same time, her sister Ruby interpreting everything for her.

However she passed the exams and progressed onto ECDL, the European Computer Driving Licence. This qualifies people to use a range of IT skills in offices.

It comprises examinations in eight different subjects. If you fail one, you can re-sit it twice but you have to pass all eight within three years.

The course was difficult not only because of the computer skills required, but because the wording of the books and exams is complex. Rita was advised to enrol on Basic Skills English and later she joined a Maths course. Both helped her greatly.

Rita spent hours and hours at home reading through the books and practising on her computer using Learndirect and other online resources. Gradually she passed the different exams although she often had to re-sit them.

As time passed Rita wondered if she would manage to pass the course. Her IT tutor, Brigit Thurstan, worked with her every week, one-to-one in her own time, and her Basic Skills tutor helped by reading the questions for the last three exams.

Rita needed 75 per cent to pass the final exam and it was her last chance. If she failed she would be right back at the beginning. A determined Rita needed to keep calm. Would she manage it?

The answer was a resounding "yes." She passed with flying colours gaining a whopping 91per cent mark

She never gave up, however tough it got, and that's why - at the annual Learning Pembrokeshire Basic Skills awards in County Hall, Haverfordwest, recently - she was given a special mention at the behest of her tutors.

Rita receives her award from Pembrokeshire County Council Chairman, John George.

ID: 17469 Revised: 28/8/2014